Generations: Dannell Ellerbe And Zach Thomas

Posted Mar 14, 2014

Current and former Dolphins share their views on different football topics. In this edition, a pair of linebackers, Dannell Ellerbe and Honor Roll member Zach Thomas, share their thoughts on their toughest opponents, most memorable career moments and which coaches had the biggest influence on their playing careers.

Who is/was the toughest offensive player you’ve faced?

Dannell Ellerbe: “I’d have to say it would have to be between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Let them share that. Those guys, they don’t even need coaches. They can run the game plan and do all of the things themselves. They’re the type of quarterbacks that you have to disguise everything. You can’t show them what you’re doing or they’re going to eat you up.”

Zach Thomas: “I’d have to say Peyton Manning because he was pretty much a coach on the field and he was an offensive genius. I’d say he’s Don Shula with an arm. He could read what you were in on defense and then make the call, which most coordinators make the call before they even see what the defense is in.”

Who sets/set the bar at your position?

Ellerbe: “I really haven’t been paying attention to too many people. I still want to achieve great things like Ray Lewis achieved. I don’t feel like anybody in the game today has achieved that or is even close. It’s still Ray and guys like Zach Thomas and Derrick Brooks that I look up to.”

Thomas: “Without a doubt, it had to be Junior Seau. I was looking up to him when I was in college. I loved to watch him play. I got to play beside him, which was awesome. To see how hard he worked and his ability, that’s the reason he went to 12 straight Pro Bowls.”

Which player did you admire growing up?

Ellerbe: “Mostly it was most of the guys who were in the limelight. You didn’t get to follow too many guys, so it was like Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders, Zach Thomas and Derrick Brooks and Ed Reed. I liked Ray Buchanan and Jamal Anderson of the Atlanta Falcons. I never had a team, so I always liked different players.”

Thomas: “When I was a kid growing up and even in high school I liked Mike Singletary because he was a beast and he was a leader and when you have respect for the game that’s what you love to see. You could see it in his eyes and how he carried himself on the field.”

What has been/was the most memorable moment of your career?

Ellerbe: “Being the leading tackler in the Super Bowl for the Ravens, without a doubt, especially on that team with those guys like Ray and Ed as my teammates.”

Thomas: “It’s my first game with the Dolphins for sure. That’s what I remember always and more than any play because it was a lifelong dream that came true. I know all the hard work and the sacrifice that it took and it paid off. It really cemented my belief that I could make it whenever everybody else doubted me.”

Which coach had the biggest influence on your playing career?

Ellerbe: “My high school linebackers coach, Mark Arthur. He’s the one that told me I was good enough to go to college because I thought I was too small. I was like 180 or 185 playing linebacker and he told me that the college teams would want me because I could run and I believed him.”

Thomas: “Obviously, Jimmy Johnson is the best coach I’ve been around. He took a chance on me coming out of college in the draft as a rookie and he developed me into the player I was. But truthfully, it would have to be Max Plunk, my linebackers coach in high school. The only reason I say that is because he gave me that ability to read offenses and that same read I used in high school, I may have tweaked it along the way, but I used that same read in the pros.”
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